Plants play a fundamental yet undertheorized role in literary and cultural studies. Much more than merely providing motifs, the vegetal informs our respective understanding of culture at a foundational level. The terminologies of philology, rhetoric and literary as well as cultural studies are permeated by references to plants (or parts of them) and by the manifold ways in which humans engage with them.
In her talk, Isabel Kranz will analyze one of these vegetal threads by examining flowers from the viewpoints of botany, literature and theory broadly conceived. The texts she will draw upon range from Carl Linnaeus’s botanical writings to recent novels and more obscure pieces of popular writing from the 17th century onward. In examining the forms and changing functions of blooms as well as historical and contemporary floral terminologies and tropes in these texts, she attempts to re-evaluate the vegetal heritage in today’s topical use of flowers.